By: Netwerk Vlaanderen
Questions about the investment ban:
Esther Vandenbroucke - Netwerk Vlaanderen - gsm +32 (0)498 62 98 71 -
Questions about the long term hazards of uranium weapons:
Willem Van den Panhuysen - Belgische Coalitie 'Stop Uraniumwapens!' - gsm +32 (0)473 71 75 18 -
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Yesterday the Belgian Parliament unanimously approved a law forbidding investments in depleted uranium weapons. Belgium is now the first country to prevent the flow of money to producers of uranium weapons. This law complements the country's ban on their manufacture, testing, use, sale and stockpiling which came into force on June 21st last. The use of depleted uranium armour piercing munitions during combat causes the release of chemically toxic and radioactive particles which represent a long term hazard for the environment as well as for human health.
Belgian money for depleted uranium weapons
Senator Philippe Mahoux submitted the law proposal in the Belgian Senate, where it was unanimously approved on the 2nd of April 2009. Approval in the Chamber of Representatives followed on the 2nd of July. The law forbids banks and investment funds operating on the Belgian market from offering credit to producers of armour and munitions that contain depleted uranium. The purchase of shares and bonds issued by these companies is also prohibited. This law implies that financial institutions in Belgium must bring their investments in large weapon producers such as Alliant Techsystems (US), BAE Systems (UK) and General Dynamics (US) to an end. Only investments made via index funds, and the financing of projects of these companies that are clearly unrelated to uranium munitions will be allowed. The law also obliges the government to draw up a "black list" of uranium weapon producers.
- and those left behind
For years, Netwerk Vlaanderen has been running a campaign that opposes investment in controversial weapons, such as depleted uranium weapons. Some banks, such as Triodos Bank and KBC, have taken their responsibility seriously and have decided to end their investment in depleted uranium weapons completely. Banks such as ING have partially excluded producers of uranium weapons. Other bank groups, such as Deutsche Bank still allow investments in these controversial weapons. The passing of this law ensures that the money of Belgian bank clients, no matter where they bank, is prevented from ending up in the hands of uranium weapons manufacturers.
for an international approach
Belgium is taking initiative at an international level by pushing this new law through. Worldwide awareness on long term harm causing effects of these weapons is growing. The resolution taken by the European Parliament in 2008 for example was supported by 94 percent of the EU members and calls for an immediate moratorium on the use of uranium weapons. A next step should be to halt investments in these kind of weapons. The report of 2007 ‘Too risky for business', published by Netwerk Vlaanderen in cooperation with the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, already made clear that there is a strong need for an international investment ban. It reported the investments of 47 international financial institutions in 3 major uranium weapons manufacturers.